Why did we make it?
Why this film, this idea and this particular theme?
Why the violence?
Why can’t we all just get along and love each other and play nice?
Why didn’t we make a heartwarming cartoon?…
Last year, Darwin was lucky enough to be invited to multiple festivals, to accompany our film DON’T FORGET TO BREATHE and attend the festival screenings. One of those festivals awarded us a special mention. Another gifted us an award for best narrative. And then, back in December, I found myself attending a screening of it, to celebrate that award. it was then that I decided to try and organise some thoughts about the creation of the film, from first idea to film poster, to try and provide Darwin with some talking points – figuring that it might help when faced with a few questions from those attending the screenings. This is essentially a more organised form of what we had discussed when approaching the idea for the project and before Darwin first attended a screening and had to talk about the finished film.
Here’s what Surprised Lee wanted to say when he stood on stage, on the 20th Dec 2019, but his mind went blank when the mic was pressed into a hand:
“Domestic violence is a huge problem. A problem of much significance. An epidemic in some countries. Somewhere in the world, every hour of every day, domestic violence is being committed – usually by men. Everyday in the US, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends. Every 9 seconds a woman is assaulted or beaten in the US. Even in Spain! Especially here, judging by the news this morning when another poor woman lost her life in Barcelona. Even those who work to help the victims of abuse are themselves often targeted by the same perpetrators – who are looking for another outlet for their anger. It is real. It is an epidemic. it’s a tragic reality.
DON’T FORGET TO BREATHE, in some ways, seems over the top. Too violent? We apologise if anyone is traumatised by the themes and violent content / actions in the film. However, it is inspired by a true story and in many ways is not extreme enough! We had a tough battle finding the right level – enough to shock and provoke a reaction, but when to hold back for fear of losing the audience entirely? Realistic drama was definitely what we felt was needed.
We very much wanted to make this film to highlight this problem, to help open or even provoke a debate about the subject and for that debate to look for solutions to prevent such violence from ever being committed again.
We feel that not enough is being done to combat domestic violence and to help the victims and to fund those organisations who work on behalf of the victims. We only wish we could have had more budget, time, equipment and skill, to make it even more impressive and more impactful in order for the film to be a better catalyst for change. But thanks to our director and wonderful team, we have done the best we have, with the limited budget we had, time allowed and with a collective passion to try and change in the world in some small way.
The black dot on the poster, is a symbol – a cry for help – that has been used by abused women to ask for help, when a careless word or message may otherwise alert their abusive partner. Typically it is drawn on the hand. We want women in such situations to reach out and seek help. We want others who suspect possible crimes to seek help on their behalf, all without endangering their lives. But we also don’t want to endanger them by making the symbol too popular, so we did not include it in the actual film: https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-34326137 – there is some debate about this symbol alone and whether it helps or hurts? But the point is that victims need to find a way to ask for help. Somehow. Your lives are not without worth. You are important. Your story must be shared!
And hopefully, someone who sees this film might know someone in a similar situation and be willing to help rescue their friend from such abuse. Or simply pass the message of the film to another and create a small wave of change and avert something potentially much worse.
It’s not about the film per se. But the message needs to be passed on. Violence is not ok. Abuse must be treated like the epidemic it is, and we must find a social vaccine. We need to change.
Thanks for watching. And sorry for anyone this may have traumatised. “
So hopefully if anyone does get to see the film, and comes hunting here as to answers to the “whys” / those questions, they will find something here that helps…. I definitely think that it is a theme that requires more exploration….
And if anyone is connected with an organisation that is dealing with such abuse and wants to consider partnering with us to help spread the message, we would love to hear from you.
Thanks for reading!